Can Cows Predict the Weather?

Have you ever heard the old saying that cows lie down when it’s about to rain?

It’s an interesting piece of weather folklore shared around the world. If cows lie down, the saying goes, it’s thought that rain is on the way. If cows are standing in their pasture, the skies will be clear.

It’s a belief that likely originated thousands of years ago. Long before weather radar and advanced sensors dotted the planet and delivered real-time data to our laptops and smartphones, people looked to the environment for cues on what kind of weather was in store.

To find out if cows have a sixth sense for predicting rain, researchers at the University of Arizona placed pedometers on the animals to measure how much they moved and when they sat down.

The researchers learned that cows prefer to stand up in hot weather. Standing up exposes more of a cow’s body to the air, so they can disperse more heat and stay cooler. If the weather starts to cool down – as often happens when a storm front approaches – they’ll be more inclined to lie down. But according to the Farmer’s Almanac, cows lying down in a field more often means they’re chewing their cud, rather than saving a dry spot in the grass.

Since recorded time, stories have mentioned erratic behavior by animals – including cattle, dogs and cats – prior to earthquakes and other major weather events, including tsunamis. One belief is that animals are more sensitive and attuned to the faint rumblings of the ground than we are. While many scientists dismiss this behavior, others are taking a closer look and studying what our four-legged friends may be telling us.

The next time you see a cow lying down in a field, check to see if rain is coming!

Read our related post: Can Woolly Caterpillars Really Predict Winter?

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